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Monday, December 22, 2014

Defeats Mounting For Islamic State

ISIS has been engaged in campaigns on multiple fronts. From Sinjar to Anbar and Deir Ezor to Kobani. Let's take a look at each front and analyze their importance and current status.

Sinjar: The Islamic State has laid siege to the Kurdish minority Yezidis since late August in the Sinjar region.

Recently a force of over 8,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters assisted by US air power were able to break through the defenses of the ISIS fighters and take control of Sinjar.

 Heavy fighting continued today with ISIS using snipers and lighting tires and oil to create smoke screens to slow down coalition air strikes. Kurdish forces suffered 25 wounded and 2 killed from ISIS snipers.

Sinjar is important to ISIS because of its location along the way to Syria, Mosul and Tal Afar. Control of Sinjar gives the group a layer of defense between Mosul and Kurdish controlled area. This victory for the peshmerga will be key in the push to squeeze ISIS and preparation for the inevitable assault to retake Mosul.

Anbar: This has been a strong hold for ISIS since their inception as AQI and ISI going back to the battles for Fallujah with U.S.forces in 2007.  This is a Sunni dominated area which ISIS had previously received major support because of the previous Maliki government's favoritism towards Shia military commanders. This is also the same area in the "Sunni triangle" where awakening tribes stood up to toss out Al Qaeda during the Iraq war. Those same awakening fighters were executed by the hundreds in recent months by ISIS.

Currently 350 U.S. "advisors" are deployed to Anbar province to assist train and equip Iraqi forces. The Iraqis need a morale boost in the Anbar fight and hopefully these additional U.S. forces can help. So far the Iraqis have fled from almost every fight and their lack of coordination has left some divisions stranded like in September when a weapons drop was dropped to ISIS forces instead of Iraqis. This led to the slaughter of the Iraqi brigade engaged in the fight.

Deir Ezzor: Recent attempts by ISIS to take control of the Deir Ezzor air base have failed. This is the last standing air base for the Syrian government in the eastern region of Syria bordering Iraq. As recent as yesterday ISIS made a second attempt to raid the air base. This attempt failed and left an estimated 20ISIS terrorists dead. It's reported that retreating ISIS terrorists took anti aircraft missiles along with them.

This airbase is crucial for ISIS in their fight to expand their "caliphate". It runs along the Euphrates river which connects them to Raqqa and Fallujah and crucial highways for supply lines into northern Syria and Mosul.

Kobani: The Kurdish Stalingrad for ISIS. A town in Syrian Kurdistan that represents the front lines of the fight against ISIS on the ground. Brave Kurdish men and women have been battling ISIS for over 90 days. The people protection units of YPG/YPJ HAVE turn the tides against ISIS in Kobani in the past month and are now on the offensive. Both sides have lost many lives in this battle. Hundreds have given their life to preserve the freedom of their homeland. Thousands of terrorists have died in fights with Kurdish fighters and from persistent air strikes on ISIS positions from coalition jets that maintain a presence in the skies of Kobani.

Young ISIS fighters tweet and chat online from Raqqa about their time fighting in Kobani. They speak about how life is much different than in the safety of Raqqa. They are not allowed to use phones or even leave their base or houses they occupied. They don't talk about their eminent defeat. They discuss their wish to force their brutal interpretation of Islam on the people of Kobani.

As winter approaches the ISIS terror group needs more open lines to Turkey for smuggling of goods and food for their fighters. Much of eastern Syria and ISIS controlled Iraqi areas are not ideal for farming and planting. The land in Kobani is fertile and some of the best farming areas in this swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. These are all major reasons for ISIS to want to occupy and steal the Kurdish lands. The Kurds have proven to be a trusted and capable force willing to grit out a long fight to not only defend their land but to defeat the evil that is the Islamic State.

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